UBC Physics and Astronomy Department

The 2001 First Year Physics Report

This report is based on final marks in UBC first year physics courses offered during the first term. The study includes students who graduated from B.C. schools in 2001. Students must also have Physics 12 or Physics 11 requirements fulfilled. In 2001, the sample used in this study represents about 87% of the total number of students enrolled in UBC first year physics courses. This sample is representative for studying the effect of transition from high school to university on studentsí performance in physics.

Following the initiative started many years ago by the UBC Mathematics Department (First Year Calculus Results), the report will compare studentsí participation and performance in UBC Physics courses by region, school and gender. Recent high school graduates from Alberta and Ontario enrolled in UBC first year physics courses are also included in the study. This is the second school-by-school report done by the UBC Physics Department that will also include comparisons with the previous year. The differences in average student performance from different schools are in most cases rather small. From experience with the Math survey we expect significant year over year variations in ranking.

It is hoped that the information will be of interest to people involved in physics education in BC.

First Year UBC Physics courses (Term I)

A. UBC Physics courses with Mathematics 12 & Physics 12 requirements.

PHYSICS 101: Elementary Physics I.

PHYSICS 121: Physics I.

PHYSICS 153: Elements of Physics (this is a two-term course; only first term results are included in analysis)

PHYSICS 170: Mechanics I (This year, PHYS 170 was not included in analysis due to the small size of the group of students who graduated high school in 2001).

B. UBC Physics courses with Mathematics 12 & Physics 11 requirements.

PHYSICS 100: Introductory Physics.
 

Contents

1. Enrollment and Performance in UBC Physics Courses

2. Enrollment and Performance in UBC Physics Courses by Gender

3. Comparison of Achievements by Region and School Type

4. Comparison of Achievements by School

5. Summary and Implications

6. Contact Information
 


Enrollment and performance in UBC First Year Physics courses (Term I)

(ONLY includes students from the 2001 graduating classes of BC high schools &
with Physics12 or Physics11 requirement provided)

Table IA (Physics 12 requirement)
(2000 results in brackets)
UBC
Physics 
Course
Number of students
Percentage passing
Percentage with
A standing
Average school mark® Average UBC mark
101
753 (604)
97 (97)
35 (37)
85 ® 75 (85 ® 75)
121
57 (70)
91 (96)
53 (54)
90 ® 77 (90 ® 79) 
153
413 (377)
97 (98)
53 (45)
89 ® 78 (90 ® 76)
ALL
1223 (1051)
96 (97)
42 (41)
87 ® 76 (87 ® 75) 

Table IB (Physics 11 requirement)
(2000 results in brackets)

UBC
Physics 
Course
Number of students
Percentage passing
Percentage with
A standing
Average school mark® Average UBC mark
100
460 (385)
94 (95)
33 (38)
82 ® 74 (83 ® 75)

                                Graph I A-B: Distribution of marks in UBC and high-school physics courses

Note: The clustered box plots offer summaries of values for separate variables. Each box contains 50% of cases and the line across the box indicates the median. The whiskers are lines that extend from the box to the highest and lowest values, excluding the outliers (cases with values between 1.5 and 3 box lengths from the upper or lower edge of the box) and extremes (values more than 3 box lengths from the box).
 

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Enrollment and performance in UBC Physics courses by gender

(ONLY includes students from the 2001 graduating classes of BC high schools &
with Physics12 or Physics11 grades provided)


Table IC
(2000 results in brackets)

UBC
Physics 
Course
Gender
Number of students
Percentage passing
Percentage with A
standing
Average school mark ®
Average UBC mark
100
male
144 (91)
92 (90)
42 (45)
81 ® 75 (84 ® 74)
 
female
316 (294)
96 (97)
29 (36)
82 ® 73 (83 ® 75) 
101
male
412 (300)
96 (97)
36 (36)
85 ® 74 (85 ® 74) 
 
female
341 (304)
98 (97)
34 (39)
85 ® 76 (86 ® 75)
121
male
39 (52)
92 (96)
54 (52)
91 ® 77 (90 ® 80) 
 
female
18 (18)
89 (94)
50 (61)
89 ® 78 (91 ® 79)
153
male
344 (307)
97 (97)
54 (45)
90 ® 78 (90 ® 76)
 
female
69 (70)
97 (100)
51 (46)
88 ® 77 (88 ® 76)

  Graph IC

Note: There is no significant statistical difference between male and female studentsí performance in the Physics courses. However, gender is a factor that introduces a significant difference in course participation for PHYS 100 (ratio M:F about 1:2), PHYS 121 (ratio M:F about 2:1) and PHYS 153 (ratio M:F about 5:1).
 
 

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Comparison of achievements by region and school type

(includes ONLY students from the 2001 graduating classes of BC high schools &
with Physics12 or Physics11 requirement)

Table II compares results by region and school type, cumulating data for courses with Physics 12 requirement, i. e. PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153, currently included in Group A. The B.C. schools identified by region are public schools. Private and Catholic schools from all over the province form two separate groups. Vancouver schools are grouped in Vancouver east and Vancouver west. Suburban Vancouver includes Burnaby, Langley, New Westminster, Maple Ridge, Surrey, Coquitlam, Delta, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, and Richmond school districts. Vancouver Island, B. C. Interior schools and students from other provinces are grouped separately. Only regions with at least 25 students in UBC physics courses from Group A are "ranked".

Ranking procedure

The "ranking" is based ONLY on studentsí participation in Group "A" UBC courses (courses with Physics 12 requirement: PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153).

The ranking score is determined by equally weighting ranks in the categories:

a) % passing in Group A courses

b) % with A standing (A-, A, A+) ) in these courses

c) the relative change of average grades in high school vs. UBC Physics courses.

High values of % passing, % with A standing, as well as small variation in grades would contribute to higher ranks. Regions or schools are first ranked in each category (a-c) and then a total rank is computed.

Tables also show the % of students in Group A courses vs. total number of students in UBC physics courses. These data are not considered in ranking, but provide an additional information about high school studentsí course choice.
 
 

Table II - all courses with Physics 12 requirement (Group A)
(2000 results in brackets)

School Type or Region "ranking"
No. of Students in 
Group A courses
%
Passing
% with A
Standing
Avg. school mark ®
Avg. UBC mark
 
% stud in Group A 
courses
1. Vancouver east (4)
93 (103) 
97 (96)
48 (47)
86 ® 77 
(86 ® 77) 
 
62 (75)
2. Vancouver west (2)
146 (153)
98 (98)
46 (48)
86 ® 78 
(87 ® 77) 
 
68 (70)
3. Richmond (5)
135 (127) 
97 (96)
47 (45)
87 ® 78 
(87 ® 77) 
 
73 (73)
3. Alberta
30 (11) 
93 (82)
60 (27)
88 ® 81 
(83 ® 72)
 
94 (85)
5. Burnaby (1)
116 (71) 
99 (99)
43 (48)
84 ® 75 
(86 ® 77)
 
80 (71)
6. North Vancouver (3)
52 (37) 
96 (100)
44 (45)
86 ® 78 
(86 ® 77) 
 
67 (62)
7. Catholic (6)
37 (28) 
100 (100)
41 (36)
88 ® 78 
(87 ® 74) 
 
56 (67)
8. West Vancouver
33
97
42
85 ® 75 
 
72
9. Ontario
48 (20) 
98 (100)
38 (40)
85 ® 76 
(84 ® 78) 
 
91 (69)
10. Surrey (9)
100 (67) 
96 (97)
40 (33)
88 ® 76 
(89 ® 74) 
 
74 (63)
10. Coquitlam (11) 
89 (75) 
96 (96)
40 (29)
88 ® 75 
(89 ® 72) 
 
84 (81)
12. Delta (10)
39 (49)
97 (96)
36 (33)
87 ® 74 
(88 ® 73) 
 
68 (77)
13. B. C. Interior (7)
104 (100) 
95 (98)
30 (41)
86 ® 74 
(89 ® 75) 
 
65 (70)
14. Private (8)
41 (39) 
90 (98)
37 (33)
85 ® 73 
(86 ® 75) 
 
67 (78)
15. Vancouver Island (12)
47 (43) 
94 (95)
17 (26)
87 ® 71 
(88 ® 72) 
 
75 (78)

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School-by-school results

The school-by-school Tables (III, IV, V) include ranking of schools with at least 10 students in UBC physics courses with Physics 12 requirement (PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153) in September 2001. Results are organized in three tables: Vancouver schools, Suburban Vancouver schools and B. C. schools outside Metropolitan Vancouver. Schools outside Metropolitan Vancouver (Table V) are not ranked, since the number of students was too small (results given in alphabetical order).

Ranking procedure

The "ranking" is based ONLY on studentsí participation in Group "A" UBC courses (courses with Physics 12 requirement: PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153).

The ranking score is determined by equally weighting ranks in the categories:

a) % passing in Group A courses

b) % with A standing (A-, A, A+) ) in these courses

c) the relative change of average grades in high school vs. UBC Physics courses.

High values of % passing, % with A standing, as well as small variation in grades would contribute to higher ranks. Regions or schools are first ranked in each category (a-c) and then a total rank is computed.

Tables also show the % of students in Group A courses vs. total number of students in UBC physics courses. These data are not considered in ranking, but provide an additional information about high school studentsí course choice.

Vancouver Schools

Table III - all courses with Physics 12 requirement: PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153
(2000 results in brackets)

School 
"ranking"
No. of Studs in Group A 
courses
%
Passing
% with A
Standing
Avg. school mark ®
Avg. UBC mark
 
% stud in 
Group A 
Phys courses
1. David Thompson (2)
24 (19) 
100 (95)
58 (58)
86 ® 81 (86 ® 82) 
 
73 (76)
1. Killarney (1)
19 (25)
100 (100)
53 (56)
83 ® 79 (85 ® 79) 
 
66 (89)
1. University Hill (7)
15 (16) 
100 (100)
67 (50)
88 ® 81 (88 ® 78) 
 
94 (62)
4. Vancouver College (9)
14 (11) 
100 (100)
43 (45)
86 ® 80 (87 ® 77)
 
78 (85)
5. Eric Hamber (8)
22 (18) 
95 (100)
50 (44)
84 ® 77 (84 ® 78)
 
71 (62)
6. Magee Sec
15 
100
40
84 ® 76 
 
71
6. Lord Byng (12)
25 (15) 
100 (93)
48 (40)
88 ® 79 (89 ® 72)
 
74 (75)
8. Point Grey (10)
14 (23) 
100 (96)
36 (48)
85 ® 77 (89 ® 77) 
 
54 (74)
9. Sir Winston Churchill (5)
21 (34) 
95 (97)
33 (53)
84 ® 76 (84 ® 77)
 
57 (79)
10. Prince of Wales (4)
18 (26) 
94 (100)
39 (54)
87 ® 77 (87 ® 80) 
 
47 (76)

Suburban Vancouver Schools

Table IV - all courses with Physics 12 requirement : PHYS 101, PHYS 121, PHYS 153
(2000 results in brackets)


School
"ranking"
No. of Studs in in Group A  courses
%
Passing
% with A
Standing
Avg. school mark ®
Avg. UBC mark
 
% stud in Group A 
Phys courses
1. Charles London (4)
21 (15) 
100 (100)
67 (60)
90 ® 80 (90 ® 80)
 
68 (60)
2. Alpha Sec
10
100
60
87 ® 80
 
71
2. Semiahmoo Sr. Sec (14)
12 (10) 
100 (100)
75 (40)
90 ® 81 (89 ® 76) 
 
100 (83)
4. Burnaby South (12)
32 (22) 
100 (95)
50 (45)
83 ® 76 (85 ® 75)
 
80 (73)
4. J. N. Burnett Sec (20)
28 (22) 
100 (95)
57 (18)
88 ® 81 (87 ® 71)
 
80 (88)
4. Cambie Sec (7)
14 (10) 
93 (100)
50 (40)
83 ® 80 (83 ® 76)
 
82 (71)
7. Pinetree Sec (13)
20 (10) 
100 (100)
45 (50)
89 ® 81 (89 ® 76) 
 
91 (100)
7. Sentinel Sec (6)
24 (10) 
100 (100)
46 (50)
85 ® 77 (89 ® 79) 
 
80 (71)
9. Seaquam (9)
17 (14) 
100 (100)
47 (50)
88 ® 78 (87 ®77) 
 
77 (70)
10. Burnaby Central
13 
100
46
86 ® 76
 
72
11. Centennial (22)
24 (27) 
100 (93)
50 (19)
91 ® 78 (90 ® 71) 
 
86 (90)
11. Handsworth Sec (2)
11 (11) 
91 (100)
45 (64)
82 ® 77 (89 ®80) 
 
55 (69)
13. Carson Graham
15 
100
40
88 ® 79 
 
79
14. Steveston Sec (11)
20 (29) 
100 (97)
40 (52)
90 ® 78 (90 ® 77)
 
77 (85)
14. MOSCROP
18
94
44
84 ® 72 
 
90
14. Richmond Sec (8)
16 (13) 
88 (100)
44 (38)
83 ® 75 (82 ® 75)
 
76 (76)
17. Burnaby North (5)
38 (25) 
100 (100)
34 (56)
86 ® 75 (86 ® 78)
 
88 (89)
18. Earl Marriott Sec
10 
100
30
86 ®76 
 
83
19. North Surrey
13 
92
38
89 ® 77 
 
87
20. Matthew McNair
11 
100
27
88 ® 73
 
65
20. North Delta (19)
10 (18) 
100 (94)
30 (28)
88 ® 72 (90 ® 72) 
 
71 (90)
20. Tamanawis Sec
16 
94
31
88 ® 72 
 
80
23. Riverside Sec
12
100
25
84 ® 70
 
92
24. Gleneagle Sec (21)
19 (13) 
84 (100)
37 (0)
86 ® 71 (87 ® 65)
 
83 (72)

 

B.C. Schools outside Metropolitan Vancouver

Table V - all courses with Physics 12 requirement (alphabetical order)

School
No. of Studs in Group A courses
%
Passing
% with A
Standing
Avg. school mark ®
Avg. UBC mark
 
% stud in Group A 
Phys courses
Abbotsford Sr. Sec
100
0
83 ®70 
 
90
Carihi Sec
100
20
88 ®78 
 
83
George Vanier Sec
100
17
85 ®72 
 
86
Kelowna Sec
6
67
33
88 ® 60
 
100
Nanaimo District Sec
6
100
0
85 ® 73
 
100
Sardia Sec
6
100
33
91 ® 79
 
75
Timberline Sec
5
100
0
89 ® 66
 
100
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Summary and Implications

Significance of the Study

This report gives an overview of studentsí enrollment and performance in UBC First Year Physics courses. The sample used in this report is represented by high school graduates from the Class of 2001 accepted in UBC first term physics courses on the basis of high school pre-requisites (Physics 12 or Physics 11 depending on the UBC physics course). This is the most common route for students to get into first year physics courses. In 2001, this route included about 87% of the total student population in the first year & first term physics courses, as compared to 67% in year 2000. Therefore, the conclusions of this study would reveal issues on physics instruction related to the transition from school to university.

Enrollment Issues

a) First year physics courses can be grouped into three profiles, each with specific student enrollments (Tables IA-B):

The course enrollment distribution is comparable to the year 2000:

PHYS 100 - 27% ; PHYS 101 - 42% ; PHYS 121 - 5% ; PHYS 153 - 26%.

b) Gender distribution pattern for each course (Table IC):

PHYS 100, a preparatory course that requires only Physics 11, has a 69% female student enrollment, which suggests a deficiency in high school course science orientation for girls.

PHYS 101, a regular course, is balanced with respect to gender distribution.

PHYS 121, an Honours course, has only 32% female students, which suggests an inadequate effort both by school and university in attracting women toward more challenging courses.

PHYS 153, an applied course, has less than 17% female students.

The above distribution did not change significantly compared to year 2000:

PHYS 100 - 76% ; PHYS 121 - 26% ; PHYS 153 - 19% female student enrollment.

Performance Issues

All UBC physics courses have a large percentage of passing students: 96% for general and applied physics courses and 94% for PHYS 100.

The average percentage of students with A standing is about 42% for the group A courses.

PHYS 121 and PHYS 153 present higher % with A standing: 53%. While PHYS 121 has decreased the percentage of passing to 91% compared to 96% last year, PHYS 153 has increased the percentage of A standing from 45% to 53%. A decrease from 38% to 33% in the percentage with A standing is observed for PHYS 100.

Studentsí grades in UBC physics courses are consistently lower than their corresponding grades in Physics 12 or Physics 11. The relative change is about 10-12%. There is no significant gender or course difference regarding this drop in grades.

PHYS 121 is the most homogeneous group with respect to both high school and university achievements, followed by PHYS 153 and PHYS 101.

In any of these four courses, there is no significant difference in performance by gender.

The school-by-school performance in UBC physics courses was measured by:

Implications for practice

Issues related to the observed gender differences in enrollment & school differences in enrollment and performance can be better addressed by enhancing school-university liaison and creating links with all B. C. high schools. This implies a common effort by university and high schools.

Seemingly, high school students need to be better informed about university physics instruction, post-secondary educational paths in science, physics-related career options, as well as successful efforts by university to create an inclusive instructional environment for all students.

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Contact
For more information on the report, or if you have any comments, please contact:
Dr. Tom Tiedje at tiedje@physics.ubc.ca
Dr. Maria Trache at mtrache@physics.ubc.ca